On this date in 1178, goes the report, five monks from Canterbury were sitting around outside just after sunset, when suddenly they saw the upper horn of the moon “split into two.” They saw “a flaming torch” spring up from the middle of the split--”spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals, and sparks.” They say that the moon looked normal again for a second, and then the whole thing happened again, and again, twelve times in all—or maybe more!
Okay, this happened more than 800 years ago, and we only know about it from one guy's written description—and we also know that eyewitnesses aren't very good at reporting what they saw even if it happened eight minutes ago instead of eight centuries ago!
Still, it has been suggested that the five Canterbury monks were watching the moon being hit by a meteor shower, and the relatively new crater Giordano Bruno being created.
However, some scientists point out that the impact that created the 22-kilometer-wide crater would have kicked up a lot of debris, so the Beta Taurids would've been joined by a week's worth of blizzard-like meteors here on Earth—the kind of intense rockfall that has never been recorded anywhere, anytime, in all of human history. If these scientists are correct, then the Canterbury monks saw something very different than the creation of the Giordano Bruno crater, after all.
It could have been, instead, that the monks saw some meteors exploding in the air—and that those exploding meteors just happened to be lined up with the Moon when viewed from the monks' small corner of Britain. That would certainly explain why no other skywatchers recorded the same spectacular event!
Also on this date: